By Tiara Samosir
Premier Kathleen Wynne called it the “biggest shake up” to the sale of beer in the history of the province Thursday when she confirmed the plan to sell the suds in grocery stores.
Beer sales will expand to 450 grocery stores across the province in a roll out beginning December 2015.
“When it comes to the sale of beer in Ontario, I’m here to announce that the status quo is over and that the days of monopoly are done,” said Wynne.
Wynne promised to fill 20 per cent of the beer shelf space in supermarkets with small and craft brewers.
“The Beer Store has grown into a de facto monopoly and controlled by a very small number of companies,” said Wynne.
For a long time, The Beer Store’s monopoly on 80 per cent of beer sales made it difficult and expensive for local brewers to get their products in foreign-owned retail outlets. This major change is designed to allow consumers to get better, easier access to local products.
The new 450 retail locations will be equal to the number of Beer Store outlets in Ontario.
Wynne said the new beer tax is estimated to bring in an additional $100 million annually, which will immediately go to infrastructure and transportation projects.
“These changes will strengthen our economy, create thousands of jobs and generate $4 billion for investments in infrastructure projects,” Wynne said at the press conference.
John Corbett, Vice President of Forum Research, conducted two polls on attitudes toward beer and wine sales in groceries stores in 2014 and 2015. Within a year, the number of people interested in grabbing beer from the shelves of grocery stores has gone up.
In a poll taken in March 2015, 64 percent of 881 Ontario adults approved the plan of selling alcohol in grocery stores.
“The last time  it was 52 per cent,” said Corbett. “I think more are approving and they approve [the changes] now.”
Beer can currently be purchased at 651 LCBO stores, 448 Beer Store outlets and directly from microbreweries.